In May 2011 a group of New Day members visited Daughters of Cambodia during our trip to Phnom Penh. Daughters helps girls and women exit the sex trade by providing them with training and fair trade paid jobs in small businesses it runs including jewellery-making, sewing of home ware and accessories and a cafe and spa that it operates. Following a USD16,040 grant New Day and Linklaters gave Daughters for their sewing operations at the end of 2010 our members were keen to visit the sewing room at the Daughters Centre as well as the Daughters cafe and shop during our May 26-28 Phnom Penh group field trip. The visitor centre comprises a shop, woman’s spa and café. Daughters employs around 15 girls or “clients” here, some of whom are training as managers and other positions of responsibility. The shop sells beautifully hand-made clothes, fashion accessories and home furnishings produced in the sewing room at the day centre. Several purchases were made by the group! We also enjoyed a lunch at the café where we were able to sample the food and speak with the manager about the progress the staff is making. We were given a good overview of the successes and challenges faced in the safe/Shop since its opening in June 2010. They are still working on staff training to optimize the efficient running of the café. The food at the cafe was fresh and tasty and the shop on the ground floor is dong very well – more than covering its costs. Sadly there was insufficient time to road test the spa! All Daughter’s businesses are targeted to become self-sustaining over time, hence reducing donor dependence. Hopefully a new entry in Luxe City Guides: Cambodia and Laos, will give a boost to trade.
At the Daughters Centre we met up with the inspirational Ruth Elliott, Founder and CEO, for an in-depth review of all six businesses. We were given an important insight into the daily social and cultural issues the NGO faces. Our group had the opportunity to meet some of the clients Daughters employs as we looked around the operation of its businesses, namely sewing , jewelry-making and t-shirt silk screening. We were struck by the industrious and very congenial environment. Management is searching for a new building as it was evident the current premises are now too small. The New Day grant for sewing training and equipment has helped increase efficiency and capacity. Indeed, as a reflection of the sewing room’s ongoing success, product demand continues to outstrip supply. Our group discussed a number of possible future funding areas to assist the Daughters operation with Ruth including inventory control management, management systems, employing an accountant, contributing to new building rental and covering the running costs of the creche and medical/counseling services. We were impressed with what Daughters has achieved so far and were all happy to have been able to contribute to their success.
Caroline Basham – New Day Member